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16 Iris

 Mortimus Lupin, a man who appeared young but whose true age was unknown, was the current prime minister of the Andromeda Federation. He was someone who had become a politician only in the past decade, and as such was considered a 'greenhorn' by most.

What nobody ever expected was that someone this fresh in the political scene would sit in the position of Prime Minister. It was so unexpected many suspected the election was rigged, but they couldn't find any evidence to support such a claim.

At this moment Mortimus was holding a meeting with 47 Galactic Fleet Generals in attendance around a massive war table. A three-dimensional hologram of the Andromeda Galaxy was projected above the center of the table, occasionally blipping as confidential data from battleships and destroyers of the Galactic Fleet was sent back to HQ.

"Has there been any news on the criminal Mazur Ral Vendick?" Mortimus asked solemnly to seated Generals.

"There has been no siting of him since his escape from the Oberon Solar System," One General spoke in defeat.

Mortimus furrowed his brows in displeasure as he asked, "So where do we suspect he is then? You all know the current situation with the Scalians. Mazur Ral Vendick is not only the galaxy's leading physicist in several fields, but is completely unchallenged when it comes to types of energy and their applications. We need his assistance desperately right now, the enemy's space folding technology has confused our current scientists to the point they even dared submit a report on a new type of particle."

"Prime minister, we need to capture one of their ships and reverse engineer it. We wouldn't need someone charged with nearly every kind of offence to aid us."

"General, we don't understand their technology and are at a severe disadvantage because of it. They know this too, which is why they've booby trapped every single major component of their ships to explode long the moment it is neutralized or tampered with."

Several other Generals added their suggestion before Mortimus stamped them out and demanded, "Enough! Our priority is to find Mazur Ral Vendick. General Timaeus, give me a summary of everything we know about his location history and predicted locations."

General Timaeus, A bald man covered in muscled stood up and give a disciplined military salute, "Prime Minister, the target, Mazur Ral Venick had been known to have been inhabiting a run space station outside of our regular fleet patrols. It is overrun by pirates and others fleeing for various crimes. The local inhabitants refer to the station as 'The Pit'.

"Approximately two years ago, he left the station on a ship called Poseidon. The commander of this ship, as noted in the footage recorded from a communication with a Galactic Fleet battleship, is of unknown personage. We are still investigating the origins of this individual, but he is suspected to just be a tool injected with memories by Mazur Ral Vendick."

Mortimus nodded his head to this. "Continue investigating his background. Something about him just doesn't add up. I believe traces of his blood were located by ultraviolet scanning on Oberon II, use that to find him for me. I want to know everything about him, down to which sperm cell from his dad he came from. Now carry on from their escape."

"Ahem, after their escape from Oberon II, as indicated by point alpha on the star map. They escaped the solar system and through a dogged chase at maximum speeds greater than 3.1HU, managed to lose the pursuit of the Galactic Fleet battleship at point beta."

The massive star map above the war table began to map out these points in response to the General. A glowing white line even connected the points as it traced the movements of the Galactic Fleet battleship as recorded by its onboard computer.

"Point Beta is located outside the galaxy within deep space. The Poseidon and Mazur Ral Vendick should have moved even deeper within. A civilian transportation vessel simply does not have the navigational equipment to return along its past vector. It also does not have optical enhancement powerful enough to pick up distant starlight invisible to the naked eye."

"Given the intelligence and capabilities of Mazur Ral Vendick, the AI of our quantum supercomputer has calculated it should have taken him about a year to repair the expected damage to the hull. Under the condition that the target is able to calculate himself which direction to go in order to return to the galaxy, our AI has predicted it should be somewhere within the nine hundred solar systems in the region of point gamma."

"Do we know anything about what is in that region other than the number of solar systems?"

"Prime Minister, that region is within an uncharted section of the galaxy. Gravitational lensing can only tell us that there is something there, but not what is there."

Mortimus nodded his head and ordered with a sigh, "Good, assign ten thousand battleships and a hundred destroyers to comb through point gamma. The pirates are all now hiding under their rocks so we don't have to dedicate as many resources toward monitoring them, all we need now is that damned arrogant convict."

"Prime Minister! That is far too many resources just to chase someone down!" One General shot to his feet and protested.

"Enough! There is no room for debate!" Mortimus quipped back in anger. "That is just how important this task is. We are at war! If we continue to be suppressed by their technology, we won't be counting our losses in people, but in planets! To ensure this operation runs smoothly, I will also be joining the search."

"Prime Minister! You are req-" One of the generals shouted in protest, but was quickly cut off by Mortimus.

"You have your orders, General. I will communicate directly from the search party for any required authorizations."

*****

"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Ivan. You may call me Iris, I will be your personal secretary from today," A beautiful women with long flaxen hair and soft, pointed fox ears curtsied to Ivan with a gentle smile.

Iris was a major celebrity in the Folkien Empire until just yesterday when the empire's royal family sent out a decree for her to serve as a person secretary for the extra-terrestrial visitors. It had contained all the information on Ivan, Mazur, and her duties when working as their secretary.

The royal family had also commanded her to attempt to form a physical relationship with one of them. One of the wishes for the royal family was to learn the method in which they became completely impervious to conventional weapons. She is to do anything as long as she can find out this answer.

Iris had always kept her body pure for the entire 23 years of her life and was also in the prime of her career, so she was greatly displeased by this sudden change. Alas, she could only depressingly sigh in the mirror since she did not have the means to resist the decree.

"Iris, have you been updated on today's schedule?" Ivan asked nonchalantly as he turned to look at her.

"Yes, there are two interviews this morning to raise your presence to the public. I believe you have specified that only you will be attending these interviews while Mr. Mazur will be free to join the military and researchers in teaching them several new technologies. However, you both are scheduled to meet the first batch of prospective... employees... later this afternoon."

"You don't seem overly confident in calling them employees, Iris. Are you unsure about something?"

Iris visibly stiffened at this and her long fox tail also twitched unnaturally. "Mr. Ivan, I don't know what you're talking about."

Ivan looked at her with a slight grin and said, "Iris, I know they chose you to be my secretary in order to make use of your looks on me. Your dissatisfaction you have for this position is obvious."

The former Vulpes celebrity was stunned and didn't know what she should do. Ivan was leading the conversation always one step ahead of her and she could only stand there stiffly.

"What did you do before yesterday, Iris?"

"I was a celebrity Mr. Ivan."

"And would you say you were talented at that?"

"I was the most famous celebrity in the Folkien Empire, Mr. Ivan," Iris said with an unhidden trace of pride and finally gained her pacing in the conversation.

"Then I'm afraid you're not overly talented at all."

Iris was once again at a loss and didn't know how to rebuff. She instinctively wanted to rebut that she was talented, as she was indeed the most popular celebrity in the empire, but it would be detrimental to her position to make a stand against this person.

Ivan grinned seeing her openly feeling unjustified. He stood up from his seat and walked toward her without saying anything. Iris was shocked by this approach and instinctively backpedalled. She walked back until she bumped into wall, at which point Ivan stood in front of her and pinching her chin, looked deep into her eyes.

"Iris, did you know? You are beautiful, devastatingly so. But becoming famous by relying on your beauty isn't a talent. Being a celebrity is very similar to running a business, success and failure depend on how well you can read others, and how well you can manipulate them."

"M-Mr. Ivan," Iris stammered while dazedly staring deep into Ivan's strange eyes and unconsciously taking in every one of his words.

"Iris, if you were talented, if you knew how to direct the heart of the people, forget about being a celebrity, you could rule the world."

"T-That's impossible."

"Do you know what I see when I look at you, Iris?"

Ivan's face was only a few inches away from Iris, their bodies only seeming to have a thin gap in between them that could close at any moment. She was backed up against the wall with no escape and forced to stare into his mesmerising eyes. The pounding of her heart resounded in her ears and no matter how much she wanted to respond to his words, but her body wouldn't respond.

"I see an unpolished gem in you, Iris. With the right guidance, you could control people to feel and think the way you want them to, to be in complete control over everything. Isn't that what you want to most right now, to be in control?"

Iris couldn't help but nod her head slightly and didn't even notice as she leaned her body forward and leaned against Ivan weakly. She truly did want to be able to control her life, and not have to throw everything aside just because she was told to.

Ivan moved closer and gently whispered into her ears which twitched at the feel of his breath, "Why don't you work for me then, Iris? Not the type of tool they want you to be to find out my secrets, but to actually work for me. I will make you strong, and they will no longer be able to even touch you. You don't need to say anything, just nod your head slightly."

Iris stood nervously with her mind in chaos. She understood exactly what he wanted of her, and didn't know how to answer. Her thoughts were a mess, so her desires took hold of her briefly and she nodded her head, sealing her fate.

Ivan smiled softly and moved back to his seat, leaving Iris to lean against the wall by herself.

"When do we have to leave for the first interview?" Ivan asked and changed the topic.

Iris wavered from where she was standing over to a nearby seat and weakly plonked herself down in it. Her heart was still pounding and half her face was blushed red.

"P-Please, just give me a minute."

Ivan was truthful when he said being able to read people and manipulate them was a key point in the success of a business, something which he was exceptionally good at. As he looked at Iris sitting there lost in her own thoughts, he could tell immediately that he had already won her over.